The Best Hotels to Book for a Surfing Retreat in California

Take in stunning ocean views at Mission Pacific
Take in stunning ocean views at Mission Pacific | Courtesy of Mission Pacific Hotel / Expedia
Photo of Tim Forster
10 November 2021
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It’s no surprise California is jammed with some of the best surfing beaches in the United States — and if you’re planning to spend a few days catching waves or relaxing on the shoreline, why not do it in comfort? Here are the top surf hotels in the Golden State. Most are in southern California from Orange County down to San Diego, but all are bookable with Culture Trip.

Mission Pacific, for Baja-style cuisine

The beachside pool at Mission Pacific Hotel surrounded by all-white sun loungers
Courtesy of Mission Pacific Hotel / Expedia
One for the upscale surfer, Mission Pacific is located in the city of Oceanside, between LA and San Diego, with the closest beach just 200ft (60m) away. Choose between rooms with a king bed, two queens, or sprawling suites with more space to relax. All center on chic, beachy textures that are high-end without being ostentatious, and the same goes for the stunning marbled bathrooms. You can make use of a pool and sizable gym when not at the beach; when you’re done surfing, grab a rooftop cocktail or enjoy refined Baja-style Mexican cuisine at Mission Pacific’s three restaurants and bars.

La Casa del Camino, for Mediterranean villa vibes

Terrace dining tables with a sea view at La Casa del Camino
Courtesy of La Casa del Camino / Expedia
Located a block from the beach and and near downtown in Laguna Beach, Orange County. La Casa del Camino has tons of atmosphere, courtesy of its gorgeous Spanish Revival building. The more affordable, simply furnished “Spanish rooms” give off Mediterranean villa vibes with pristine white walls and patterned drapes; a variety of surf-themed spaces have a funkier atmosphere with more bells and whistles (there’s also a beach cottage for small groups). Guests who aren’t hitting the surf can avail themselves of the hotel’s beach chairs and umbrellas, or just unwind at the ocean-facing Rooftop Lounge.

Nomads Hotel, for colorful rooms

Two twin beds with Mexican-themed decorative pillows in a a colorful private room with lime-green walls, a red door and red ceiling details at Nomads Hotel
Courtesy of Nomads Hotel / Expedia
A few miles south of Laguna Beach, you’ll find San Clemente and the funky Nomads Hotel. An affordable boutique property, it has colorful rooms, each centered on one paint scheme with plants and beach-centric art. Pick your size – spaces can sleep couples up to groups of six. It’s located in the center of town with restaurants and cafes all around — the closest beach is a half-mile (800m) away (and hotspot Trestles Beach is a little down the coast). And if you want to stretch your limbs, the hotel offers a shuttle as well as surf lessons and rentals

Surfbreak Hotel, for a beach-house atmosphere

The Surfbreak Hotel is in a white building with three floors and a red-tile roof, and it faces an outdoor parking lot and numerous palm trees
Courtesy of The Surfbreak Hotel / Expedia
In San Clemente, you’ll find the Surfbreak hotel, which rocks a classic SoCal feel. It’s a no-fuss affair, with bright rooms decorated in white and wood elements, and emanates a beach-house atmosphere. The amenities are straightforward and cover all bases: wifi, desk, TV, iron, and surf rack on demand; rooms can sleep up to four people in two queen beds (two-person rooms with kings beds are also available). The hotel is a couple of miles from Trestles Beach, and central San Clemente is a short walk away.

Pacific Grove Inn, for a vintage feel

A traditional room at the Pacific Grove Inn with a wooden tv cabinet and cosy-looking bed
Courtesy of Pacific Grove Inn / Expedia
Surfing isn’t just for SoCal: the area around Big Sur and Monterey has plenty of action, too. One option in the area is this quaint spot in Pacific Grove, right next to Monterey. With a historic building, the rooms have a vintage air about them, with patterned wallpaper and antique lamps that make it feel more like a manor than a hotel. It’s an intimate place with just 16 rooms, including family-friendly options — the eateries around Lighthouse Avenue are steps from the front door, and the nearest beach is a half-mile away.

Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel, for surf-themed art

Dusk hits the orange and red Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel
Courtesy ofBay Shores Peninsula Hotel / Booking.com
Just two blocks from Orange County’s Newport Beach, this family-run hotel has a cheery, retro vibe to it, with pastel colors and surf-themed art adorning the walls. Most rooms are best for couples, but a two-bedroom suite is available for small groups or families. Outside the rooms, the hotel offers daily buffet breakfast (as well as fresh-baked cookies for free in the afternoons), beach equipment (towels, chairs, boogie boards), on-site parking, and a rooftop sundeck.

House of Trestles, for skate ramps

A surf mural on the side of House of Trestles, with bikes lined up on the ramp out front leading to the entrance of the modern building
Courtesy of House of Trestles / Expedia
A mile (1.6km) away from famed surf beach Trestles is this boutique hotel and hostel. The rooms have an industrial-chic, loft feel to them with concrete floors and a modern, geometric architecture, softened by velour sofas and eclectic artwork. The penthouse and apartment options include a full kitchen; simpler hotel-style rooms are available. On the hostel side, dorm rooms with bunks are available for more frugal travelers. The hotel offers various rentals including surf boards, as well as some less conventional amenities: a skate ramp and street art gallery (as well as the staples, such as wifi everywhere).

Beach Haven Pacific Beach, for a beachy bolthole

Rooms open onto the palm-lined pool at Beach Haven Pacific Beach
Courtesy of Beach Haven Pacific Beach / Expedia
You’ll find this casual hotel in Pacific Beach, a northern neighborhood of San Diego, with a veritable buffet of beaches available just a few miles north and south (plus Pacific Beach, a block away). Featuring an oceanic white-and-blue color scheme with tiled floors, the rooms are modern and a little minimalist. Some have full kitchens (but numerous restaurants and bars are also walking distance away), and the hotel offers a heated outdoor pool, spa, and barbecue for guests.
These recommendations were updated on November 10, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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